J.A. Bauer pottery bowl from the 1940s.

J.A. Bauer pottery bowl, circa 1940s.

Founded in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1880s, J.A. Bauer Pottery originally specialized in containers for the most popular of local products… whiskey. Manufacturing stoneware crocks and bottles, John Andy Bauer built his business on traditional earthenware techniques, thick and sturdy liquor, and water jugs which were meant to follow function more than form. It wasn’t until Bauer relocated to Los Angeles in 1909 that his innate creativity began to take root.

Arriving just as a collective of artists were in the midst of dreaming up Arts and Crafts style, Bauer would eventually become one of the most important designers amid a vital American design movement. Inspired by the weather, light and lifestyle of his new Southern California home, Bauer began designing simple and beautiful garden pieces and dinnerware – vibrant and original in both their form and playful, primary coloring.

Yellow Bauer bowl, 1950s.

Wide Bauer bowl measuring 12 inches, circa 1950s.

After Bauer’s death in 1923, the company has continued to thrive under the guidance of several imaginative design directors, among them Louis Ipsen, who created the hugely successful “Ringware” line in the 1930s. Ringware was manufactured with a concentric circle ceramic technique which enabled the company to mass produce sturdy, inexpensive pieces – and which also happened to look great. Ipsen also took Bauer’s original explorations in coloring and ran, offering the Ringware pieces in a huge assortment of hues – my favorites are a pale, delicate turquoise, the color of backyard pool at midday, and the roaring, gutsy orange of a Southern California sun.

This was more than merely kitchenware, it was a spit in the face of the grey shades of the Great Depression – the company bringing a rainbow of color into a world of drabness. Today, Bauer is hugely collectable for good reason (the company closed in 1962); these are designs whose simplicity defies fads and whose durability beats most ceramics manufactured today.

Bauer jug, circa 1900.

Early Bauer jug with missing handle, circa 1900.


  1. Hank
    Posted January 12, 2010 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    I always migrate towards bright pottery of this type at the flea markets but have never purchased any. Maybe now that I know some history, I'll start collecting. Any clue if these bowls contain led-based paint?

  2. Posted January 12, 2010 at 5:54 AM | Permalink

    Yes, there is lead in some of the older bowls! I'm doing more research on this and will update the article shortly.

    Best, Jessica

  3. Michaela
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 7:09 PM | Permalink

    Hello Jessica,
    Wondering if you were able to find out anything about the safety of eating/serving with the old Bauer pottery and if lead is any kind of issue? Thanks so much!

  4. james bates
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    i have two green mixing bowls with 12 on bottom. no othermark

    please let me know info where made, when??

    thank you

    james bates

  5. nancy harper
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

    Could you tell me about my black or dark (more peweter glazed)

    12 in by 4 1/2 in bowl?

    The only thing on bottom of the bowl says BAUER with a stamp of an

    arrow or more of an impression.

    Thank you,


  6. Sebastian Kaufmann
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    James, Nancy,

    It is very hard to tell the dates when your bowls were made. Bauer made bowls in hundreds of different designs and colors over the years.

    The bowls were most likely made in Los Angeles where the Bauer Pottery Company was located.


  7. Connie Tackett
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 1:32 AM | Permalink

    I am trying to find out what a stoneware churn that is brown in color is valued at. It says John Bauer & Bro has 2199 below this and

    Preston St. below this and Louisville, Ky. below this. Please contact me as soon as possible. I did not realize this was a valuable churn and had planned to put it in the 127 yardsale. I looked up a light colored one at an auction and it bought $ 275.00. Please get back with me as soon as possible.Yard sale starts tomorrow .This has the chip in the bottom like the one I looked at on the computer. Thanks for your help.

  8. Sebastian Kaufmann
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    Hello Connie, Sorry, we don't estimate value on vintage products. But I'd still love to take a look at it. You can send me a picture at sebastian(at)kaufmann-mercantile.com. Good luck at the Yard Sale. Sebastian

  9. Michael
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    I have a 10.5" X 10.5" straight sided lazed pot marked:

    J A Bauer


    los angeles ca


    on a Blue shield with a large number 3 under the logo the pot is a sandy colored glaze and has no hole in the bottom. It has been in our family for many years. Can you tell me anything about it or suggest a place to look for information? I assume it is a stock catalog garden pot, but from what period?

  10. Sonny Hill
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 3:07 AM | Permalink

    I have a brown 2 gal. jug with 'From/Mansfield/Drug Co" scratched on it. Also incised at the top is: J A Bauer/Maker/ Paducah, Ky/ and a 2 below that.

  11. shawn
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Permalink

    I recently got a ja bauer #3 crock but the top half of the crock is black glaze…I have never seen one like this. likely a fake? or were these produced?

  12. Posted February 25, 2011 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    I have a # 5 Bauer crock from the 1930's or possilbe 1920's how can I find out how much it worth and it has the company logo on it. I got it free and if I could sell it to someone that can appriate it more than I can, drop me a line Michael B. El Monte, Ca.

  13. J0 RAMEY
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

    i have a pitcher, tourquoise, marked on bottom J A BAUER POTTERY LOS ANGELES, no numbers 04 other identifying marks. can you tell me if it is real and if so how old?

  14. J0 RAMEY
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 3:56 AM | Permalink

    i have a pitcher, tourquoise, marked on bottom J A BAUER POTTERY LOS ANGELES, no numbers or other identifying marks. can you tell me if it is real and if so how old?

  15. starr long
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

    this message is to Michael Bush from a feb 2011 message. I just bought a Bauer crock like you described for $80.00, I think that is a good price. It has logo and #5 on it, California made. Can anyone say if this is a good or bad deal.I can not find the crock anywhere in the Bauer inventory

  16. mark huggs
    Posted October 1, 2011 at 1:23 AM | Permalink

    does my antique pottery contain lead

  17. Gary Hench
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

    I have a light tan colored crock that maybe holds 10 galons of water. It has J.A.Bauer Pottery Co, Los Angeles inside an image of an orange that is outlined blue. Above this is the number 6 in the same blue. Again this is not painted. Could you please help me with the approximate age of this crock and what it was used for? Thank you


  18. Tom B.
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 1:52 AM | Permalink

    My mother-in-law has what appears to be a 25 gallon brown glazed crock with "elephant ear" handles approximately 171/2" tall by 14" across that is signed J. A Bauer, Manufacture, Preston Street, Louisville, Kentucky. She says there is an "X" mark on the crock, as well.I haven't seen anything like this on the various web sites…is this an old, old one and might you have an idea what it was used for or it's value. Thanks

  19. Steve
    Posted July 27, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    I have a couple of what I am sure are Bauer ringware bowls, however they do not have Bauer on the bottom. They are just stamped with a number 18, and USA, I have been told by a couple of pottery collectors that they are Bauer, but no one can tell my why some that I see are stamped with the Bauer name, and some are not?

  20. Ed P.
    Posted October 21, 2012 at 3:34 AM | Permalink

    I have a brown #5. It has, on the bottom, Bauer Pottery Co. Los Angeles, and it measures 17" high and 12" in diameter.

    It was my father's. Anyone know what these are going for?

  21. Nancy
    Posted August 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

    I have a red 17 inch Bauer chop platter. My earliest memories of this platter is my grandfather serving BBQ in it in the early 1950's. it is very heavy and thick with rings on the edge.

  22. Denise
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

    I have a large ringware bowl I believe to be a Bauer, but the only marking is number "9" on the bottom. It is a light, or "delicate turquoise" color. can you tell me if it is a Bauer? Year? Location? Value?

  23. Mitmite9
    Posted January 7, 2015 at 1:46 AM | Permalink

    Best place to research Bauer pottery values is probably on eBay or on sites such as Etsy. Look there and you can see what prices are and IF anyone is buying at that price. That will give you some idea as to value. Just because a book or someone tells you a bowl or a plate or a crock is worth such and such DOES NOT mean it will sell for that. The prices have dropped considerably in the past 15 years. The more rare items fetch the higher prices.

    I came here looking to see if Bauer pottery does contain lead. How about baking in a Bauer ware casserole dish? It seems my search must continue.

  24. B Switzer
    Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:56 AM | Permalink

    I also have a brown tall crock marked J A Bauer ,Paducah,Ky 6

    did you ever find value for yours ?

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